Challenging

In her recent Bible study on the Gospel of John entitled Proven, Jenni Allen shares several opportunities for “experiences” to reinforce each week’s lesson. One of my favorites, so far, has been from Week One where she asked us to celebrate the fact that God is a master experience-creator by creating an experience for some of our friends or family members. Her guidelines were simple: it had to be fun, inexpensive, contain something you’ve never tried or done before, and it had to be memorable.

A couple of friends agreed to join in the experience with me and I had so much fun with it that I decided to share it here. (Don’t get freaked out because there are multiple steps! These are SIMPLE!)

Step One: Spend a few minutes telling God God all the things you’re grateful for today! (I know, a few minutes isn’t nearly long enough!)

Step Two: Choose ONE word as your “today, I am most grateful for____” word.

Step Three: Now, you get to go on a nature walk/treasure hunt around the yard or house…for items that you can use to spell out your word! I don’t care what you collect for this project, but you can’t leave your yard and you can’t spend any money.

Step Four: Now go to the Word and find a verse about the word you’ve chosen and photographed.

Step Five: Send me a picture of your “word” and your verse so I can share in your creativity and celebrate with you! (BTW, I’m happy to receive them all personally, but you might want to share them in the comments section so others can share in your fun, as well…just a thought! Either way works for me!)

Step Six: Post your word and your verse on your social media platform and share the blessing with someone else.

Step Seven (because if I’ve gone this far, there HAS to be a 7!): Spend a few more minutes thinking about how you can incorporate more of “your word” into your life this week.

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As you can see, my word was “joy” and, although it doesn’t really match the traditional colors of Autumn, it was gathered right out in my yard on October 1st! Thanks to previous owners, hot pink and purple are actually signs of Fall around here. (grin–we’d hate to be predictable, you know!)

Last week, I was given a hug by someone who doesn’t know me very well. At the end of it, she turned to others nearby and said, “You can just feel the joy in her!” That blessed me really big. While I am rarely without joy, sometimes, my serious side shows more than my fun one and I have been challenging myself to work toward being more balanced in this area. I chose this word because I know that happiness is temporary, but JOY can be permanent because of my relationship with God. I grabbed the bungee cord because sometimes joy can stretch you and you need to be flexible to hang on to it when things get a bit hard. I opted for the echinacea flower over the bungee cord because echinacea naturally strengthens the immune system and joy is a healing thing. I picked the clematis bloom because it was the biggest blooming thing on the place (grin) and because clematis is happy to send tendrils up and out into the world grabbing hold and covering whatever you’ll let it. I settled on the twig from one of the camelias in the front because it was pretty, it had fully extended blooms along with buds that signal more beauty to come…and was also easily made into a “Y”–and practicality is also part of Joy for me! (ha!)

Your choices don’t all have to have hidden meanings, that’s where my mind naturally took me on this journey. I would LOVE to see what you come up with and, whether or not you choose to participate in this one, I challenge you to find more joy in your week. Grab hold and celebrate the beauty of the season, the goodness of our God, and the fact that Autumn seems to have finally begun to arrive.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 (ESV)

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 (ESV)

Grace and Peace!

 

 

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The really spectacular day…

IMG_20170527_180617889It doesn’t take much to make us happy. Well, some days it does, but it’s usually stuff like spending time together and having both of us healthy at the same time and holding hands and having our cat, Smokey, oversee our every move. (As you can see from the photo, he thinks this is HIS blog today.) We have had just such a day.

We had planned a whole long weekend at home trying to kick the yuck of the previous weeks out of our lives and I had all the food choices figured out and ready for the grill, a slew of old movies and maybe a board game or two lined up along with the knowledge that we had a whole extra day to add to the mix on Monday. I woke up first and quietly made my way into the living room to break my way gently into the day. It wasn’t long before my husband joined me with a mischievous grin on his face. I could tell he felt better just by the way he was grinning. (MAJOR praise!)

“You know what I want to do today?” he asked.

“You want to go out for breakfast.”

He shook his head from side to side and began to spill out his plan for the day. Just the idea that he felt up to it made me want to join in the fun, so we made quick work of our morning chores and off we went. It took us off our beaten path and it was worth every single second.

When we arrived at our destination we giggled like school children. We held hands as we crossed the parking lot and shared one last (really big) grin as opened up the heavy doors and stepped inside…and then we parted ways. You would have thought it was Disney, but we had just entered the hallowed space that is the Barnes and Noble.

Let me pause here and let you exhale that great big breath you’ve been holding, ok? I know. That probably wasn’t even close to what you were expecting, but believe you me–it was a big deal to us. Even better? We made a pact to split up and go whichever direction we wanted and stay as LONG as we wanted…just because we could! Outside of a public library or a botanical garden, there’s just about no other place I’d rather spend some time than a room full of words all put in different orders and ready to share something new and pertinent with you if you just pick up the ones written in the right order to appeal to you.

We had traveled over an hour just to get to this one. Oh, there’s one about 20 minutes closer, but THIS one has a P.F. Chang nearby…and that cast the deciding vote on the matter. When our adventure–and yes, it qualified because we braved Atlanta traffic and survived all sorts of perilous drivers on the road there and back! In fact, I am actually the only one who made all the right moves on the entire trip there and back, y’all! It is harrowing to know that that many people who can’t drive actually do so!…ANY WAY!… When our adventure was complete, we each had a bag full of books and magazines with hours and hours of fun, entertainment, learning, and mind adventures just waiting to be started. We made another stop on the way home to get some minor fixes made to a recent purchase and then, to top it off we made a stop by the Sonic on the way home and purchased TWO Route-44 Fresh strawberry slushes…and if that doesn’t sound delicious to you, then we’re not sure you’ve really lived. (grin)

We heated the PFC left-overs from lunch while we got in our comfortable clothes. Actually, that last sentence should be more accurately translated into, “We then got into our pajamas at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon and settled in for the long duration!” Now that we’ve made sure Smokey has properly settled in for appropriate oversight and the delights of Crispy Honey Chicken with brown rice and the egg rolls have been consumed, it is here that we find ourselves…hoping and praying that one day you’ll manage to have such a splendid outing with someone you love this much and that you won’t let things like being over an hour away and not being on the schedule or feeling silly that if you’re going to go to all that trouble it better be something more spectacular than a bookstore and some really upscale Chinese food. (Fried green beans, y’all. Fried green beans. It would have been worth the trip just for the appetizer!)

The moral of this story is this: don’t wait to have a spectacular day until you can pay big bucks and do something stunningly grand to impress people. The little things actually make the bigger impact when you consistently fill your life with loving people, delicious food, and good words all written out in a way that makes you smile…and maybe even ones that will inspire you to get out and do something that wasn’t on your agenda at the beginning of your day, either.

Grace and Peace, y’all! I’ve got a stack of books to dig into right now! (happy dance, happy dance!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 28–NCN2016

14803374006631278927256Welcome to your post-Thanksgiving-break Monday when we return to our regularly scheduled programming…er…lives!!! Aren’t you excited?! (grin)

It’s early and yet I’ve already seen several memes and videos about how much people are dreading this day! In fact, they started posting some of them yesterday…as if they couldn’t get their dread in fast enough?!

Perhaps it is done mostly tongue-in-cheek, but these words still have power, so your challenge for today is to start YOUR week off on a positive note and finish this challenge strong! Only 3 more days remain in NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER! If that isn’t reason to celebrate, I’m not sure what is! (ha!)

Take a few moments today and make a list of your 3 favorite memories from the weekend. Post a photo or write a journal entry and place it where you can see it as a reminder of all you’ve had to be thankful for this season.14803376379641033919393

Next, make a list of 3 things that you’re looking forward to as we enter into the month of December and place that nearby, as well. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Scribbles on a post-it note will work just fine!

The whole point is to be reminded of the things that have brought us joy and also have a sense of anticipation about what is yet to come. It’s hard to be negative when you’re surrounded by good memories and fun plans for the future!

Give it a shot! There’s nothing to lose but your post-Thanksgiving-break Monday blues!

Grace and Peace! (and NO COMPLAINTS!)

(By the way, I’m celebrating a new blog domain for this blog today! You can still find me at quietambitions.wordpress.com AND you can find me at quietambitions.quietambitions.blog now, as well! You still get the same post, it’s just a nerdy-blogger-fun thing for me! Feel free to shout or share or dance right along with me!)

 

Day 23–NCN2016

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and as much as I would love to think that this blog would play a major part in a world-wide celebration of it (grin), I am realistic enough to know that it won’t–and smart enough to be grateful that we will ALL have more to do than write or wait to read a blog post over the next few days.

This is a time for family and friends and food and football (LOL! A lot of my favorite things start with the letter “F”!) and lots and lots of gratitude for all the
blessings we have–those we know about AND those not yet in evidence. I plan to  rejoice and spend some time telling God “THANK YOU!!!” even though this will be the first time ever that we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving without traveling to see family. We are looking forward to a quiet restful time together here at home. I pray that wherever you find yourself and regardless of how your plans unfold, you will be full of gratitude and know that you are loved by God in amazing ways.

Each year since I began the blog,grandmother hodum thanksgiving poem I have 1122160901shared the following poem. My Grandmother Hodum used to recite it for us each year as we gathered at her house and I simply can’t imagine Thanksgiving without it. I still miss her terribly even after all these years. I treasure the copied words in her handwriting–and I hear her voice in my head as I read it every time– but I know you can’t really have the benefit of that. (and I really hate that for you! She was wonderful!) It is difficult to read her handwriting if you don’t already know the words, so I’m also sharing them below.

“Thanksgiving Dinner”

I don’t believe in eating much

of turkey, pumpkin pie and such.

It make me dream bad dreams at night

and then, besides, it’s not polite.

So I’m not going to stuff and stuff

and act like I can’t get enough.

For me a turkey leg will do

with just a slice of breast or two,

then some liver, gizzard, and a wing,

Lots of dressing, that’s the thing!

Mashed potatoes to make me grow

Squash and cabbages, they’re fine, you know,

And I must have some cranberries, too,

And layer cake–two pieces will do.

Then of pumpkin pie so yellow–

One piece, because I’m a little fellow.

With nuts and apples I shall quit

and not ask for another bit.

For it isn’t good the doctors say

To eat too much on Thanksgiving Day!

See you in a few days! And until then, remember this: Moderation in all things (grin!) and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Grace and Peace! (and NO COMPLAINTS!)

Day 21–NCN2016

0910160758a-1I found a small sprig earlier in the year while I was cleaning out the back flower beds. I let it stay.

All through the summer I watched it reach higher and higher, marking time until it would reach the screens of the back porch. I kept watch over it as it grew. I documented it in photos. I let it grow.

It didn’t bloom. It didn’t produce fruit. It didn’t do much of anything, really, except keep on reaching higher and higher. It stayed the same beautiful green as the day I first spotted it for the longest time, but I knew what to expect, so I kept it safe.

1121160728-1It is higher than the back screen door now and curls around the edge of the back gutter. Just this past week, it has come into its own and completely changed colors…all shades of red and burgundy and even a light pink up near the top. I love it!

I’m celebrating the season. I’m celebrating the life and the growth and the changes. I’m celebrating the choice to deliberately wait for those things to happen. I’m celebrating the choice to allow joy to grow at its own slow pace and keep it safe and to look for it to show up in unexpected places.

Oh, I know. Its just a plant–and a wild one, at that, but it looks like joy to me and I’m celebrating the journey of this year and giving thanks for all God has done as He’s let me grow and kept me safe and waited on me to come into my own a little bit more this year, as well.

Happy Thanksgiving week, y’all! Most things in life don’t show up in their full splendor. It takes some time. It’s a process. Sometimes you’ve got to plan ahead and let the joy grow at its own pace…and give thanks for it all along the way.

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“in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)

Grace and Peace! (and NO COMPLAINTS!!)

Day 18–NCN2016

I rarely watch commercials, so as we were watching a previously recorded show last night and my husband asked if I had seen “that commercial” (as they sped by thanks to the remote control), my answer was a definite “no” regardless of which one he meant.

He paused, backed it up, and we watched the one he wanted. Apparently, he had seen it while on a recent business trip because I’m pretty sure he hasn’t seen it here. We’re both1118160811a-1 fans of the remote control and its fast-forward button. (it gets you back to the game a LOT faster!)

That tiny little interaction has me thinking about life and wondering what else I might have been speeding past…things that are a lot more important than a commercial. What else have I gone “remote control” over and put on hold until I finished this task or that one? What have I outright ignored or just deleted before it finished because I was in a hurry?

1118160811.jpg“You’re spending too much time thinking about crazy stuff!”, you might say and, perhaps you’re right. I’ve been so focused on “getting through until…” lately that I’ve probably missed more than I realized. That changes today. I’m adding another element to my NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER, and you’re welcome to join me in that, too.

In my efforts to “get through” and “get it done”–and not complain about it!–I’ve missed out a little bit. I tend to get so task-focused that I forget to actually “enjoy” sometimes. Am I the only one? I don’t think so. Oh, I’ve taken some time out to have fun this month. I took friends on a picnic and decorated for the season a little bit and I’ve spent more time writing than I have in a while, but I also know that, while I haven’t complained (often!), I also haven’t deliberately enjoyed things as much as I could have, either.

That brings me to this weekend’s challenge: take time to appreciate who and where you are–and who shares life with you! Look for the beauty around you–in nature and in 1118160817.jpgpeople. Take a photo, write a note, drag someone you love out to enjoy it with you or celebrate the beauty all by yourself, but do THAT this weekend instead of remote-controlling your life while you miss out on actually living it.

Thanksgiving is coming up next week and we might as well start practicing for it today!

Grace and Peace! (and NO COMPAINTS!)

*And yes, I did go out and take these pictures while still in my pajamas today just for fun! The colors are even better in person and that late-blooming hydrangea picture had to be taken from my deck because it is higher than my head! (big grin!) Stopping to smell the roses actually happened today and it was worth every single second! 

 

Day 14–NCN2016

Happy Monday! I hope your weekend challenge went well…I mean, seriously, how could making your loved ones feel even more loved NOT go well?! I can’t wait to hear some of what you did to accomplish that!

This week, I want us to start off continuing in that pattern. I’m using my friend Marsha as a prime example of this. (hey, #12!) Marsha is, like all of my friends, absolutely brilliant! She does NOT, however, often give herself credit for this…which probably makes her brilliance easier to bear. (grin)

32461When I asked my Line to share what they were doing visually to help them celebrate NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER, Marsha’s first response was that she had made an “ugly poster.” We all promptly requested a photo of said ugly poster. It took some doing–and I’m not entirely certain she didn’t go back and make another one, because THIS is what she sent us!

As you can see, it’s not ugly. The premise behind her poster is even less so! I know the picture isn’t that big, so I’ll just tell you what it says in all these bright beautiful colors:  “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER” 

What you may NOT be able to see are the two columns that follow. Marsha and her husband (hello, Jay!) have started a list of things that they are THANKFUL FOR under the NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER line. See! Brilliant! Their comments (at the time of this photo) weren’t things that would cause monumental changes across the globe, but things like, “I’m thankful for rain.” “I’m thankful for faithful kids.” THOSE are things that might happen in each of our lives, but stopping to put them down on a poster elevates them, highlights them, CELEBRATES them!

It makes me think we might all need to make an “ugly poster”…and keep it up long after this NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER has faded away. Just food for thought…and if you decide to make an “ugly poster”, would you please feel free to share it with the rest of us, too? Being reminded of what we’re thankful for, would indeed, make it easier not to complain…and that’s worth keeping around a lot longer than just one month.

Happy Monday!

Grace and Peace (and NO COMPLAINTS!)